The importance of having a unique artist name

We know how hard each and every artist out there works on their music. Writing lyrics, composing melodies, tightening the production, getting tracks mixed and mastered, sorting distribution – there are so many steps that are taken before your music actually makes its way out into the world. So how much would it suck to go find your tracks online, only to find it’s been put on someone else’s Spotify or Apple Music page?

Unfortunately this happens all the time on music streaming and download services when too many artists have the same name. It’s no one’s fault, with the sheer volume of music being created and released there are bound to be double ups on artist names.

Stores often mix-up content when a product (your music) is delivered with the same artist/band name. This is because they handle their content administration automatically so it’s frequent that artists with a very similar or the same name are allocated under the very same artist page. It’s not easy for computers to be able to tell the difference between DJ Cool from Tokyo and DJ Cool from Timbuktu!

This is why it is so important to come up with a unique artist or band name, and research it before you release anything.

When you start your musical career using the same name as an existing band or performer you make life difficult for yourself because:
  • You may end up with your music appearing on someone else’s Spotify, Apple Music, or other store profile
  • It will be harder for people (think A&Rs, managers, promoters, and FANS) to find you online
  • You might not be able to register a website or social media profiles under the name you want
  • You risk infringing on someone’s trademark, which can be very serious

For example, Tahlia Barnett performs under the stage name FKA Twigs, you may have heard of her… The FKA, which means ‘formerly knows as’, was only added to her stage name in 2014 because a Brooklyn-based duo called The Twigs tried to sue her for infringing on their copyright. No matter how successful you are – no one has the time and money to waste of a lawsuit like that!

There are lots of ways to come up with a unique stage or band name, but here are a few to get you started:
  • Use your real name – sounds obvious but a lot of artists want something ‘different’ or ‘cool’ but there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple
  • Combine your real first name and a made up last name, have some fun with it!
  • Deliberately misspell a word, take out the vowels, or use an acronym à la Desiigner, WSTRN or U2
  • Flick through a book or the dictionary, close your eyes and point on a word. Don’t laugh, it worked for Destiny’s Child!

For more ideas to find your band name, read 5 ways of coming up with a great band name.

Once you’ve come up with your name, check as thoroughly as you can to see if it’s already being used. A few ways you can do this are:
  • Search for it online – type it into Google, or enter and see if the URL has been taken
  • Type the name into music services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Soundcloud and any others you can think of to see if anyone is using the name
  • Search for social media accounts that use that name. If they’re not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube it’s unlikely you’ll find anyone with the same name on any other social media sites
  • Check if there is a trademark registered under that name. Here are a few databases you can check

This is all well and good for new artists starting out who haven’t settled on a name yet, but what if you’ve already got a problem with duplicate names?

It’s not the end of the world!

For starters names can always be changed, a lot of famous bands have done this in the past and if you’re releasing music under the name ‘Dave’ you might want to think about making it a bit more unique now rather than later.

If you have released music through Spinnup and your tracks are appearing on someone else’s store page, there are a few things you can do. When it’s happening on Spotify, you can apply for a Verified Artist Page by logging into your Spotify Artists account and submitting a request.

But if that’s not possible for you, please contact our support team and tell them you have a Separation Request. They will then get in touch with Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL or any of our other retail partners to request your music be separated.